Environment & Planning

Courtney Flatt

When you think of grapes in the Northwest, wine is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But Concord juice grapes actually are Washington’s most widely planted grape. It turns out, juice grapes are more susceptible to warming weather than their wine grape cousins.

The sun beats down as researcher Markus Keller leans in to inspect his experimental concord grape vineyard.

Keller: “As you can see here, there’s a lot of flowers forming on the different shoots.”

The grape leaves hang down like a curtain over the rows of vines. This year’s crop looks to be strong.

Beyond Toxics

After bee die-offs this month in Eugene and Beaverton, the Oregon Agriculture Department is placing a 6 month ban on pesticides containing two active ingredients that are dangerous to the insects. 


Rachael McDonald

The McKenzie River Trust is embarking on a project to turn gravel beds into native fish habitat on its Green Island property north of Eugene. The project brings together two unexpected partners: conservationists and the gravel industry.

The Coburg Aggregate Reclamation Project, or CARP, is at a place along the historic McKenzie River channel where gravel was mined for many years. Now, three ponds are the remnants of that mining operation. Joe Moll is Executive Director of McKenzie River Trust.

Rachael McDonald

A national report released Wednesday finds that half of the plants sold at major retailers as "bee friendly" are actually poisonous to bees. The plants are pre-treated with pesticides that are harmful to pollinators according to the study by Friends of the Earth.

Neonicotinoids are pesticides that kill bees and other pollinators. Lisa Arkin is with Eugene-based Beyond Toxics. She says retailers don't label plants to indicate whether they've been treated with these chemicals.

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the Rogue River in Southern Oregon welcomes a busy summer season of rafters, kayakers and fishers.

For EarthFix, Devan Schwartz reports on a proposed expansion of the Rogue Wilderness — and why it’s taking so long to become a reality.

The Rogue is one of the West’s most iconic rivers. And many conservationists are calling for Congress to expand the wilderness area surrounding it.

Robyn Janssen is with Rogue Riverkeeper. She helped organize a recent trip down the Rogue to highlight the river’s environmental issues.

Eugene Company's License Suspended Following Bee Deaths

Jun 20, 2014

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has suspended the license of the company responsible for more than 1,000 bee deaths earlier this week in Eugene. Glass Tree Care and Spray Service applied pesticides at an apartment complex in North Eugene on 17 linden trees, the same types of trees involved in thousands of bee deaths last year in Oregon. Bruce Pokarney is the Communication Director for the ODA. He says before the company can resume applying pesticides they must adhere to certain conditions.


Oregon's industrial facilities dumped more than 1 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the state's waterways in 2012. In a new report, Environment Oregon ranks the state 33rd worst in the nation for water pollution.

Cassandra Profita / Earthfix

Some Portland brewers have a challenge for you. Can you taste the forest in their beer? Is it an old growth forest or one that's been logged? They’ve been collecting wild yeast from both types of forest and using it to ferment some beer. EarthFix reporter Cassandra Profita joined a recent hiking group that tasted the results.

Wagoner: "Alright, let's stop right here."

Matt Wagoner of the Forest Park Conservancy, is leading a hike through a little known parcel of old growth forest. It's about 20 minutes from downtown Portland.

Oregon Wild

The recent discovery of Oregon's wandering wolf, known as OR-7, and his new pups is one reason a conservation group filed a lawsuit against a logging project near Crater Lake National Forest. Oregon Wild filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service in District Court in Medford Wednesday.

Do you kayak, canoe or paddle? The Oregon State Marine Board is looking for input from non-motorized boaters. They’ve been on the road since early June and are in Eugene today (Tuesday) and in Bend Thursday.

Scott Brewen is a director with the Oregon State Marine Board. He says for the first time in the state’s history, non-motorized boating is more popular than motor-boating:

Brewwen: “In all different types of boating from flat water to white water, kayaking, canoes, stand up paddleboard, we’re seeing growth in all areas so it’s pretty exciting.”

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

A prolonged drought is putting pressure on water supplies for the Klamath Basin’s wildlife refuges. EarthFix’s Devan Schwartz reports on how the nation’s original waterfowl refuge may be too dry this summer to provide a stopover for millions of migratory birds. It's part two in our series, Refuges in Trouble.

In 1908, Teddy Roosevelt designated the Lower Klamath Lake refuge to protect millions of migrating birds.

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

What could be the largest carp removal project in history is underway at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Oregon.

EarthFix’s Devan Schwartz reports on the attempts to curb the invasive fish that has destroyed bird habitat for decades.

Minnesota fishermen are pulling in thousands upon thousands of carp from Malheur Lake, the main feature of the national wildlife refuge.

Tim Adams tosses carp from net to boat.

This weekend is the last chance for backyard and open burning in many places in Oregon. Lane, Linn, Benton and Marion Counties have all declared June 15 as the last day.

Neil Miller is with the Oregon Department of Forestry. He says early this year, they considered starting the burn ban sooner than usual. But spring rains relieved their concerns about fire danger:

US Fish and Wildlife

It’s been ninety years since the last native California wolf was trapped and killed. Last week, Oregon wildlife officials announced that OR-7, the wolf they’ve tracked wandering in and out of northern California, had found a mate and fathered a new litter in southern Oregon. That news contributes to the growing sense that it’s only a matter of time till wolves re-inhabit the Golden State. Against this backdrop, California wildlife officials extended endangered species status to the gray wolf.


A lawsuit brought by two Eugene teens against the state over climate change will get a second hearing in Lane County Circuit Court. The Oregon Court of Appeals Wednesday  ruled the case has merit.

Rachael McDonald

The Oregon Court of Appeals is expected to issue its ruling Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by two teens who want the state to do more to prevent climate change. One of the plaintiffs in the case, Kelsey Juliana, is about to graduate from high school. KLCC's Rachael McDonald spoke with her recently about what's next.

I met up with Kelsey Juliana at Amazon Park. As we walked the 18 year old told me her plans.

Juliana: "I will be graduating from South Eugene High School June 14th. And then, I will be leaving mid-July to join the Great March for Climate Action."

Angela Kellner

Behind Cougar Dam on the reservoir is a new project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a Portable Floating Fish Collector, or PFFC. It's about the size of a tennis court. It's moored in place, but can be moved around the body of water to find the sweet spot. After a two-year trial run, it will be disassembled, loaded onto trucks and taken to either Lookout Point or Detroit Reservoir.

Greg Taylor: "My name is Greg Taylor, I'm a fish biologist for the Corps of Engineers at the Willamette Valley project. We operate a number of fish facilities at the dams and then we've got this brand new facility that we're bringing on line here at Cougar Reservoir.

The long-term goal of this project is to get a sustainable run of wild Spring Chinook established above Cougar Dam. The Portable Floating Fish Collector that we're working with today captures juvenile fish in the reservoir so that we can transport them safely downstream.

Shortly after the dam went in place, they were evaluating whether they could establish a run of fish above the dam and it didn't work for a number of reasons. We had temperature issues associated with the dam. So the trap and haul and the downstream passage systems that we had just didn't work so at that time they made a decision to produce hatchery fish in mitigation for the old system that was in place. We've got fish listed on the Endangered Species Act. There's an emphasis on wild fish and wild fish production and so this project is really trying to move towards getting those wild fish reestablished above the dam.

It's sort of a stationary fish vacuum. We've got water being pulled into the throat and then fish go over this velocity barrier and then get caught in a little trap down there and then we'll be able to bring the fish up and then we process them and transport them downstream.


Rachael McDonald

A giant sloth and an even larger saber-toothed salmon once lived in Oregon, millions of years ago. These creatures are some of the highlights of a new exhibit at the U of O's Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene. The grand opening is Friday evening.

"Explore Oregon" features a collection of fossils and other geologic items the museum has had for a long time but never put on display. Project Director Ann Craig says, with the museum's recent expansion, there's finally enough space to share the collection with the University and greater community.

According to census estimates released last week for cities of 50 thousand or more,  Salem has once again nosed out Eugene as the state’s second largest city.  As of July 2013,  Eugene’ s population was about 159 thousand, while Salem topped  160, 000.

Portland remains Oregon’s largest city by a factor of four.  Bend was the clear state leader in percent of population growth last year at two-point-nine.  Eugene, Springfield, Salem and Corvallis all saw small population gains, with none registering as much as one percent.

Flickr Creative Commons: Armed Forces Pest Management Board

Northwest researchers are teaming up to stop an invasion of stink bugs moving across the region. The bugs, which can smell like dirty gym socks, ruin tree fruit and grape vines. Those crops are vital to Northwest agriculture.

You have to go through three airlocked doors to get to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s stink bug research lab.

The quarantined, closet-sized room has it’s own ventilation system. The stink bug colony of about 400 bugs is kept inside an even smaller room within the lab.

Chemist Lee Ream opens the door.

Ream: “So, here’s our colony.”

Liam Moriarty / JPR

The people with perhaps the most direct economic stake in the fate of Jackson County’s proposed ban on growing genetically modified crops are the county’s farmers. Jefferson Public Radio’s Liam Moriarty visited Rogue Valley farmers who stand on opposite sides of Measure 15-119 to find out how they see it.

City of Newport

For years, residents of Newport have raised concerns about effluent from a Georgia Pacific Mill in Toledo.  Since 1957, the company has pumped it’s wastewater through a pipe that discharges into the ocean, about .75 miles off Nye Beach.  A new study from Oregon State University is adding to a growing body of evidence showing the effluent is not causing significant impact on the surrounding environment.  

Saving The Greater Sage Grouse

May 12, 2014
USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

The West’s greater sage grouse are in trouble. The birds make their homes in desert sagebrush country. But their habitat is shrinking – because of people, wildfires, and agriculture. With fewer wide-open places to live, sage grouse numbers are dwindling. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt takes a look at one program that’s relocated sage grouse from Oregon to Washington.

It’s early in the morning, hours before sunrise.


The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined a Eugene Springfield sewage treatment company for a spill that occurred during a harsh February storm.

Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission was fined $7,800 dollars for releasing approximately 54,000 gallons of sludge into a drainage ditch connected to Flat Creek. The reason for the overflow was a pump failure caused by a power outage. Esther Westbrook is a Compliance and Enforcement Officer for the Oregon DEQ.

Cassandra Profita / Earthfix

Video: “Here we go, through the water!”

You can see the extent of the Highway 101 flooding in YouTube videos made by people driving through it. In this one, the car radio plays a local commercial while a woman in the front passenger seat films the view from the dashboard. It’s all water.

Video: “Oh, my God. Um. This is a lot worse than I thought it was going to be.”

At one point, she turns the camera to the right. The water level is almost as high as the passenger window.

Video: “We are in a lake.”

Rachael McDonald

Honeybees swarmed Wednesday morning behind the KLCC studios in downtown Eugene. They may have come from wild hives on the roof of the nearby Rogue Brewery. When bees swarm, there's a list of people who can come and take them away.

Brent Hefley is on the Lane County Bee Keepers Association Swarm list. He got a call from the Rogue and came out to the parking lot behind KLCC. He brought a wooden box.

Liam Moriarty, Jefferson Public Radio

The federal legislation that regulates mining for copper, zinc, gold and many other minerals was originally signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. In ways, the law reflects reflect a 19th century view of natural resources: limitless and there for the taking. Now, a legacy of pollution at tens of thousands of abandoned mines across the West is prompting an Oregon Congressman to head a new effort to revise the General Mining Act of 1872.

Chris Cora stands on what used to be a mountaintop in the Umpqua Basin of southern Oregon. Now, it’s essentially a landfill …


For decades, the government has relied on regulations to protect water quality. But what if cities tried something other than simply telling people what they can -- and cannot -- do?

What if cities actually rewarded people for managing their land in ways that keep rivers cool and clean?

Two Oregon cities are trying this approach.

Marilyn Cross lives alongside the McKenzie River. It’s home to salmon and steelhead and the source of drinking water for the downstream city of Eugene.


A Lane County group chose Earth Day for their latest legal move. Today (Tuesday) “Support Local Food Rights” filed its third attempt at an ordinance to protect area farms and limit certain agricultural practices. 

Last month, a judge ruled that the previous version of the Lane County Local Food System Ordinance did not comply with pre-election requirements. Attorney Ann Kneeland says the county now has five days to decide if this newest incarnation is acceptable.

Kneeland: “If they determine it complies, the county will have a period of time to draft a ballot title.”